So the reason making it to the start line, let alone finish, at Disney will be such a challenge is because of the injury I have been dealing with for the last 9 months.
It seemed inconspicuous when I turned to check if any traffic was turning into the road I was crossing when out for a run last December and there was a click in my back. It was the beginning, however, of a long road back to being able to run properly again. What had happened was that the vertebrae in my lower back had compressed over time with all of the training that I had been doing for the 2010 Disney Marathon and also the Cayman Triathlon.
This meant that with the vertebrae squashed together they were pushing on various nerves in my back resulting in referred pain in my right leg. As it was only a month to the marathon, and I had been in training for nearly 12 months with the Triathlon too, there was no way I was going to pull out, and as the only symptom appeared to be a slightly tight hamstring, I ran the race. Despite the tightening up I felt, and the cold conditions I ran a Personal Best, and didn’t feel that much the worse for wear afterwards.
I went through the usual couple of weeks recovery after the long run and felt not too bad, so started light training again. By this point the compression in my back had caused the muscles surrounding my lower back and right hip to stiffen, this in-turn put more pressure on the nerves in the area and increased the pain in my lower leg to a level where I couldn’t run at all.
What followed was several months of visits to various chiropractors and physiotherapists trying to get to the root cause and try to get the right treatment. Nothing really seemed to work, but then I had run for a while with the problem and made it worse so that it was always going to take a long time to rectify. The problem I had was that every time I thought I was coming back, I would start exercising, and within a few days I would be back to square one, each time with a different symptom. This appears to be a common issue with this kind of injury, as the back is compressing different nerves, as various muscles stiffen and release different nerves are affected giving different symptoms.
In a quirk of fate, the physio that I was seeing was going on holiday and referred me to another person in her practice who specialized in Myotherapy. Myotherapy is slightly different to normal physiotherapy, as it concentrates on the movement of joints and uses techniques like dry-needling and stretching. After a couple of weeks of this I was seeing a huge improvement in my condition to the point where I was able to start cycling regularly to get some initial fitness back. A month in to the treatment and I was back out on the road running, well kind of.
Initially I was only allowed to run for a minute out of every 5, and as the treatment went on and my condition improved I was able to increase the time. At the beginning of this 18 week plan I can now run for 3 minutes in every 5 for longer runs, and for anything up to about 4 miles I can complete running the whole way.
The injury has not cleared up 100%; when I wake in the morning I am sore and my back is very stiff, but I have a regiment of stretching which loosens everything off and after which I feel almost perfect. I also have problems with sitting for long periods, which isn’t helpful considering my job is to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours 5 days a week. The stretching and regular sessions with the therapist mean I have a workable solution to get me up and running.
In the first couple of weeks of running again I have found that the actual act of running and exercising is helping, whilst I may feel a bit stiff when I start I soon loosen off and have no problems completing the sessions I have tried to this point.